Thursday, February 16, 2012

'A Time to Keep' songs by Lise Sinclair based on the short stories by George Mackay Brown

Lise Sinclair
Musician & Poet

1969 original copy
A Time to Keep and other songs

 Piano / voices / fiddle / guitars / accordion / banjo / mandolin / toy piano / glockenspiel / harmonium / sansula 

 Icelandic translations by A∂ALSTEIN ASBERG SIGUR∂SSON 
 MARCH 2012 
 THURS 8 - St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall 
 FRI 9 - Fair Isle 
 SUN 11 - Town Hall, Lerwick 
 THURS 15 - Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh 
 SAT 17 - Reykjavík, Iceland 
Writer George Mackay Brown - Stromness Orkney - photo attributed to Gunnie Moberg

The stories in George Mackay Brown’s ‘A TIME TO KEEP’ are tales of life in all its small detail, set in the harsh and beautiful landscape of the Northern Isles. They are lit with the author’s precise, poetic touch and the characteristically understated Northern voice. The characters inhabit an unwritten history between the sagas and the 20th century as if carefully gathered from time itself.
Lise Sinclair is a singer, songwriter and poet of that same landscape and its music and literary traditions — a native of Fair Isle, Britain’s most remote inhabited island, half way between Orkney and Shetland.

Lise has written a series of new songs that will bring the stories out of the book and connect the past with the present and the Northern Isles with Iceland, where George MacKay Brown drew reference and linked the Scottish and Nordic cultures as they are still lived in these Isles. Lise says that it wasn’t so much an idea that presented itself, as she “began to hear these songs on first reading the book, as if they were already there, singing out of George’s clear, lyrical prose.”

The music has been written in collaboration with Icelandic musician and composer, Ástvaldur Traustasson and recorded by a band of musicians from across the North Isles and Iceland, including Lise, Ástvaldur, Inge Thomson, Brian Cromarty, Ewen Thomson and poet and Icelandic translator A∂alstein Asberg Sigur∂sson. The band gathered from the North, in Edinburgh in January to rehearse and record the songs and will be releasing the album and performing the songs at a special series of concerts set to take place in the Isles, Edinburgh and Reyjavík in March 2012, at the end of the Year of Scottish Islands Culture.

The music is a rich tapestry of sound: voices, piano, fiddle, guitars, accordion, mandolin, banjo and harmonium, blending a wealth of tradition with what’s new in Scottish music and Icelandic jazz into songs which are a journey from beginning to end, through time, under wide island skies.

The first performance is on Thursday 8th March in St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney, a place where George Mackay Brown found inspiration, and where the fusion of Norse and Scottish voices resonates in the very stone. The performances includes Icelandic readings of the lyrics by A∂alstein Asberg Sigur∂sson.
Lise & Monk at work
A Time to Keep has 14 songs, here is the title track, a story of a fisherman-crofter in the elemental story of the islands, featuring the Fair Isle Chapel bell... and The Five of Spades, a tale of an Orkneyman and a gambler who sailed for Nova Scotia, it includes Brian Cromarty singing The Ballad of Check Harra...

rehearsing at Heriot Toun, outside Edinburgh

Brian Cromarty, The Orkneyman
& The Resonator
Pianoman & Icelander
Lise & Inge  harmonise
The Fair Islanders... Lise, Ewen & Inge.

Ewen Thomson & Inge Thomson
The Fiddler & Queen of Angels

Adalsteinn Asberg Sigurdsson, The Translator   

the music & the translations all come together at once

The Resonator & other strings
Photos by Cheryl D. Barnett

video by Liz Musser

 Soponsored by Creative Scotland - Scottish Islands - Scottish Island Writers.  

 Supported by Shetland Arts 
 The Scottish Poetry Library - The Scottish Storytelling Centre. 
& the estate of George Mackay Brown.

Thank you to Loganair for getting us from one island to another to sing.

 MORE ABOUT Lise Sinclair 
Her suite of music, Ivver Entrancin Wis (shetlandmusic 2008) for cello, harp, viola and voice, based on      poetry from Shetland was launched at Celtic Connections with Fiddlers Bid. Other poetry setting projects,  featured poems by James Clerk Maxwell (Orkney Science Festival 2007), ‘Under the Evening Sky’ (2010) for the Scottish Poetry Library and Literature Across Frontiers with performances in Argyll, Edinburgh Book Festival (2008), Reyjavík Literature Festival (2009), and in Vilnius & Riga (2010).

Other recent work includes ‘White Below’ (Hansel Cooperative Press 2010), ‘Empty Ocean’ (Radio 3       2009) and poems on the Shetland crofting landscape in collaboration with artist Tommy Hyndman.

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